Iraq: First displaced people arrive at Red Crescent camp in Jordan

20 March 2003 - Some 350 Sudanese and Somali nationals are being sheltered at or have passed through a Jordan Red Crescent camp being built to accommodate those displaced by the conflict in Iraq. They arrived just hours after the first US missiles struck Baghdad.
The Federation's delegation in Amman said 250 Sudanese with valid travel documents had transited through the camp near Ruweshid, about 50 km from the Iraqi border.

Around 100 more Sudanese and Somalis are still being accommodated there.

The head of the International Federation's delegation in Amman, Christer Aqvist, said the Jordan Red Crescent was ready to assist any displaced people who crossed the border.

All the necessary relief items - tents, blanket, stoves and cooking equipment - are already at the camp. "Work continues around the clock," Aqvist said. Tents for some 5,000 families are now being erected, but basic infrastructure, such as the water and sanitation system, were completed some days ago. The camp is being staffed by Jordanian Red Crescent volunteers recently trained in camp management.

More relief items are being held in a warehouse in Amman, ready to be deployed in Jordan and Syria.

"In case of a crisis, the Jordan Red Crescent will be a first responder," Jordan Red Crescent President, Dr Muhammad Al-Hadid, said. It is envisaged that third-country nationals who arrive at the camp will stay for a maximum of 72 hours. "If, later on, there are Iraqi refugees coming into Jordan, the assistance will be used to accommodate them," al-Hadid said.

The arrival of the first refugees came as the Federation launched an emergency appeal for 111 million Swiss francs (US$ 80 million) to help more than 300,000 people in Iraq and neighbouring countries.

In the past weeks, the Federation has pre-positioned relief supplies in Iraq and neighbouring countries in anticipation of population movements provoked by a conflict. Red Crescent Societies are prepared to assist potential refugees and displaced persons as follows: 55,000 people inside Iraq, 100,000 in Iran, 25,000 in Jordan, 25,000 people in Syria and 80,000 people in Turkey. Kuwait Red Crescent is also on standby to assist displaced people.

In addition, the Federation has put on standby more than 30 emergency teams from across the world, which could provide essential support by setting up field hospitals and water and sanitation facilities as well as providing logistical and telecommunications support.